Today on Radio WM, Adrian Goldberg1 posed the question, “Should Birmingham City fans boycott matches at St Andrews?” He interviewed Ash (full name not given) who runs the “BCFC fans united -protest group” Facebook page and Twitter feed. This group believes that Blues fans should boycott home games.
I’m not in favour of a boycott at present. It’s difficult to prove a point by not being at St Andrew’s. The only way to show how many are staying away because of the protest is for them to gather somewhere else while the game is on. Some of those who advocate a boycott do so because they think the drop in gate receipts will force the club into administration. Even if it did, which I doubt, there is no guarantee that administration will lead to anything better than what we have now. I also want to support the team.
So what can fans do? I don’t think we can force an owner to sell the club. And we can’t do anything that guarantees that the next owners will be better than the last. However I believe that there is some value in supporters expressing how they feel. It makes them feel better and helps promote unity among fans who feel the same way. That’s why I liked the protest scarf idea (see Scarf FAQ2). By the way, the scarf and slogan weren’t my ideas; the person who thought of then just gave me permission to use them.
The words on the scarf, “All we care about is BCFC”, convey an allegiance to our club. The use of colours other than royal blue symbolises dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs and helps the scarves to stand out in a crowd. There is no copyright infringement or obscenity that could provide a reasonable reason for banning them from the ground.
There might come a time when I would consider a boycott. For example, if some owner moved the club out of Birmingham then it wouldn’t be Birmingham City anymore and it wouldn’t be my club. I would like to think that what happened to Wimbledon in 2002 could never happen again but I don’t have much faith in the Football Association or the Football League to stop it.
Coventry City’s home games are being played in Northampton this season and many of their fans are boycotting these games. But they don’t all agree on how to protest against the situation. A recent article3 reports that there are two separate protest groups. It says:
“A growing number of fans are simply fatigued and disillusioned by the situation. The complexity of the Ricoh rent dispute and subsequent administration has made it difficult for supporters to determine who should be targeted, and what methods should be employed in order to secure a return to the city of Coventry.”
Cardiff City fans are also divided on the question of whether to boycott. The club was rebranded in 2012 in order to increase their appeal to the Asian market. Some fans stayed away but others accepted the change from blue to red. The owner had put money into the club and for most fans the success purchased by that money was more important than club tradition. The club gave free red scarves to fans attending one game, which were accepted and worn by most of the fans. But one of the boycotters described it as “The day the bluebirds died.”4
If I had the time to do the research I could probably find evidence of disagreement among fans at most clubs. It seems to be ingrained in football culture. I can accept differences of opinion among Blues fans but not the animosity that sometimes arises. I don’t agree with those calling for a boycott but believe they have as much right to their opinion as I do to mine.